A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The main characters discuss everything from photography and film, art, religion/faith, LGBTQ+ identity, orphanhood, and health scares. Readers will be exposed to various real places in New York and will learn a bit about some of the experiences of being a young, Latino, and gay in New York City.
As in the first book, there are plenty of messages about seizing each day, because you never know when it will be your last. Strong messages about the importance of forgiveness, redemption, and love, and how family can include close friendships; a parent can (and should) also be a child's confidant and close friend.
Positive Role Models
Both Orion and Valentino are generous, kind, and empathetic. They are protective of those they love and persevere even faced with tragedy and trauma. Each of them has a sister who helps, supports, and encourages them and stands by them through difficult times.
Plenty of diverse representation, particularly Orion's and Valentino's identity as young gay men. Orion and other supporting characters are Latino and describe that identity as well.
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Violence & Scariness
Mass shooting kills several people. A character with a heart condition has a cardiac event and is hospitalized. Several characters die. A woman describes physical abuse from her husband.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Orion and Valentino are immediately attracted to each other but don't act on those feelings for a while. They kiss, make out, and eventually share a first time together.
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One character doesn't curse, but the other protagonist curses regularly. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "douche," "d--k," "bitch," "motherf----r," etc.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
People drink in toasts and at parties.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The First to Die at the End is author Adam Silvera's chart-topping prequel to his best-selling and BookTok sensation They Both Die at the End. The book details how the Death-Cast calls began and the two young men impacted by the first predictions of death in this alternative reality. Like the original, the prequel includes strong language ("s--t," "f--k," "a--hole," etc.), violence (various main and supporting characters die in different ways), and romance (characters kiss, and there's one quick "fade to black" love scene). Silvera's fans will love this return to the world of Death-Cast and Deckers, and should know the story includes characters from the first book, just seven years younger. Once again, the author explores grief, loss, first love, and the importance of family, both biological and found.
Is It Any Good?
Adam Silvera's prequel is another emotional roller-coaster as readers follow two young protagonists on what's predicted to be a death day. While it's not necessary to read the first book to understand the prequel, knowing the stories and characters of They Both Die at the End will add not only context but a deeper layer of meaning to several of the cameos from the original tale. Silvera's two new main characters, Valentino and Orion, walk readers through the shock, awe, horror, and acceptance of Death-Cast's first calls. Various characters have dedicated chapters, including the enigmatic founder of Death-Cast who keeps the way he can predict someone's final day a secret. It's an unanswered question in both books, but it's still fascinating to witness the creator's unfailing commitment to the importance of notifying "Deckers" that they're going to die. Some of the points of view are uncomfortable and unlikable -- like the unfeeling Death Cast operator whose trick to calling people is to consider them already dead, or Valentino's greedy, exploitative, and abusive super who hopes to capture a Decker's death on camera in order to sell it. But Orion and Valentino are both vibrant, kind, and oddly hopeful for doomed lovers.
As readers familiar with the first book will expect, The First to Die in the End explores philosophical and mature themes including faith, grief, intimate partner abuse, first love, trauma (Orion's an orphan), and the importance of trusted friends and found family. Identity is also highlighted, since Valentino and Orion are both gay. While Orion is out and supported by his adoptive family, Valentino's religious parents disowned him. Their relationship manages to develop organically, even if it's clear their first day together will also be their last. That the romance doesn't feel like insta love despite it lasting roughly 24 hours is an example of the author's skills. Silvera has said that there's a third Death-Cast scheduled for 2024, and readers who pay attention will be able to spot who the next pairing will focus on. Until then, this prequel is just what fans wanted, a return to the alternate-universe New York, where even on your last day alive, you can find friendship and love.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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